New era for popular Hucknall gym JR's as Kirsty takes charge

An iconic Hucknall gym is gearing up to move into a new era as it changes hands after being owned by the same family for 40 years.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 8:12 am

But despite JR’s Gym on Watnall Road being under new leadership, it will retain its well-known name.

The gym was founded by Hucknall stalwart John Baker back in 1982 and was run by John and his wife Pam, who is also retiring after being involved since its inception.

When John died, his son Steve took the decision to convert part of the ground floor into the Baker & Bear bar.

Kirsty Swain outside JR's Olympia

But the gym has remained popular and under new owner, Kirsty Swain, looks set to continue to thrive.

Steve said: “My dad started the gym with his business partner Robert Spray, that’s where the JR name comes from.

"Dad started it because there wasn’t really a commercial gym in the town and fitness was his hobby, he loved sport and keeping fit and he turned his hobby into his job.

"When my dad died, I made the decision to change half of the building into a bar.

"The members had started going down slightly and I thought ‘what can I do to enhance the gym?’.

"I did the gym up first and made it more bespoke, but I realised I could have two businesses and when I was younger, we renovated this building that the bar is in now and I knew all these roof beams and features like that were there. They were just covered up and I thought it would make a really nice rustic-style bar.”

Now, the business is taking it’s next step with the lease passing on to Kirsty.

Steve continued: “She’s young, she’s got lots of great ideas for the business, she does a lot of classes there herself and brings a different element to the gym that I couldn’t do and I think she’ll take JR’s to the next level.”

Kirsty has plenty of experience in the fitness industry, having been manager of Hucknall’s Rolls-Royce Leisure Fitness Centre for ten years.

And she wants to keep the name and legacy of JR’s going into the future.

She said: “The feedback I’ve had is that people want to come back to the gym too, they are fed up of doing home workouts.

"I’m bringing something different, I’m bringing in classes for the first time and I’m really looking forward to it and I hope it will grow.”